By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry gave his last major speech as leader of the country's second most populous state on Thursday, extolling a record of job creation and economic growth that has made him a possible 2016 Republican presidential contender.
Speaking to a joint session of the Texas Legislature, Perry said that between December 2007 and today, the state had created 1.4 million jobs while the rest of the country had lost 400,000.
"Job creation, not higher taxation, is the best form of revenue generation," said Perry, who will step down in a few days after serving 14 years in the post.
Polls show that Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, ranks near the bottom of major possible Republican presidential candidates. He dropped out of a gaffe-filled and short-lived campaign for the 2012 presidential nomination but has been attempting a national political comeback.
Perry is also facing a criminal trial in Texas for felony charges of abuse of power that have clouded another run.
In his speech, Perry attacked President Barack Obama's administration over border security, talked about bipartisan efforts to decriminalize certain types of drug offenses in the state and build the largest wind-turbine power network in the country.
He also took a shot at what could be seen as the policy stances of the conservative Tea Party branch of the Republican Party. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a fellow Texan, is a Tea Party favorite and a potential presidential rival.
"I speak to members of my own party in asking that you do not place purity ahead of unity," he said.
Texas Democrats point out that under Perry's watch, the percentage of Texans living in poverty has increased and is well above the national average, while millions in the state are without health insurance and the school system ranks near the bottom in the United States in several categories.
"The real legacy of Rick Perry is putting his allies and special interests ahead of Texas families, supporting an economy that works for the wealthy few, and leaving middle class and low income families behind," the party said in a statement.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)